In emergencies, communities must come first

 By Matteo Cimellaro  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter When Brenden Mercer worked the attack lines as a forest firefighter, he was sent into the deep reaches of the bush with nothing but trees in sight. It left a profound impression and greatly influenced his future work helping First Nations prepare for emergencies like catastrophic wildfires. He came away thinking the approach to emergency management should change. Communities must come first. “Communities are on fire. Communities need help,” Mercer said. “That’s where we should focus our efforts: protecting people, protecting homes, not five trees in the middle of nowhere.” Later, Mercer found a role that reflected his beliefs. He found a job with the First Nations Emergency Services Society. FNESS, for short, helps B.C. First Nations with emergency management through a four-pillar…

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